Kara Swisher

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Sugar Media Say Buh-Bye to NBC Universal–Raises $16 Million From Sequoia Capital, Buys Shopflick and More


San Franciso-based women-focused online media site Sugar Inc. made it first significant move into the local market by announcing its purchase of FreshGuide.

The locally focused FreshGuide makes women-aimed city guides that show off daily offers in a wide rage of arenas, such as beauty, health and fitness. It also has another offering, BookFresh, which does online booking for spas and salons.

San Francisco-based Sugar Media, which specializes in Web sites aimed at women, cut its ties with NBC Universal by buying back its shares and got a Series C funding of $16 million from Sequoia Capitol.

Sequoia has been an existing venture investor, having put $5 million into the start-up in late 2006. NBC, a unit of GE (GE), invested $10 million in 2007.

It is unclear at what discount the shares were bought back at, but it seems likely. NBC had been selling online advertising for the site, an arrangement which had previously ended.

Sugar, which runs the flagship PopSugar.com site, also announced it has bought video shopping start-up, Shopflick, and had hired its CEO to run a new Los Angeles-based entertainment unit called Sugar Digital Entertainment.

David Grant was former president of Fox TV Studios and his new unit will be charged with expanding into video, TV and film with Sugar-branded content.

Here’s a video interview BoomTown did with Sugar in 2007:

And here’s the full press release:

Sugar Inc. Launches Sugar Digital Entertainment with former Fox TV President

New Unit to Expand Sugar Brand into Video, TV and Film; Sugar has also Acquired Video Shopping Start-Up Shopflick.com and Completed a $16 million Series C Funding from Sequoia Capital

San Francisco, CA, June 1, 2009–Sugar Inc. announced today a series of steps to expand and diversify the fast-growing woman’s lifestyle media company.

Sugar is launching Sugar Digital Entertainment, an LA-based unit that will expand the Sugar brand into online video, television, film, videogames and other content formats. David Grant, former President of Fox TV Studios, Exec VP of the FOX Network and founder and CEO of Shopflick.com, joins Sugar as President of SDE with a mandate to work with talent and media partners on Sugar-branded projects.

Sugar has acquired Shopflick.com, the video-powered fashion marketplace founded by Grant in 2008. Shopflick is a pioneer in online video-driven shopping, with a critically-acclaimed brand that has quickly built a following with both designers and shoppers. Shopflick will enable Sugar’s ShopStyle–the leading social shopping destination for women–to pioneer a new video-driven commerce offering for its merchant partners.

Sugar also announced that it has completed its Series C funding by securing $16M from existing investor Sequoia Capital. Sugar intends to use the funds for acquisitions and international expansion to support the company’s growth into a major media company targeted to women’s lifestyle. In conjunction with the transaction, the Company has repurchased shares sold in 2007 to NBC Universal.

“These moves further our rapid growth into a leading media company,” said Brian Sugar, founder and CEO of Sugar Inc. “Sugar Digital Entertainment, run by an executive with a successful track record in television and digital, will leverage our brand and expertise into online video, TV and film. Shopflick’s team and online video expertise will enable ShopStyle to further leverage the powerful relationship between content and commerce, an area of vast potential online. In short, we have become a media company with exceptionally diversified revenue streams encompassing advertising, commerce and license fees.”

David Grant, founder and CEO of Shopflick.com said: “Sugar has tapped into the passions and interests of women in a way other media companies can only dream of, so I see this as a big opportunity to help the founders take an already successful company to another level. Sugar’s brand and expertise in women will play a role in creating great video content on all platforms, including online, TV, film and wherever smart, passionate woman are gathering. I am equally excited about finding a terrific home for the Shopflick team and the opportunity to turn our vision of video-driven shopping into reality for the millions of women who visit Sugar every month.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik